Nature Study: Oak Trees

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I was excited to see this week’s Outdoor Hour Challengefind an oak tree to observe.  It was perfect for us.  For one, I actually know an oak tree when I see one and, two, our yard is full of them.  Thanks to yet another rainy week, plus sickness in our home, we were unable to go to our nature center again this week, but, with this week’s challenge focus, we were able to do a nature study right in our own yard — or, technically, at our own table since I went outside and brought in specimens to study since it was raining.

I started second-guessing myself right away because I had never really noticed acorns in our yard and oak trees are supposed to have acorns, right?  Well, according to Barb, at Handbook of Nature Study, not necessarily.  However, I did find some acorns under our tree when I was actually looking for them.

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In addition to some acorns, I also brought in a leaf for use to trace/draw/make rubbings of.  I was really surprised, when I got online to positively identify our oak tree, that I didn’t know which kind of oak tree we had.  I’d always thought it was a live oak, but as soon as I saw a picture of an actual live oak, I knew that wasn’t it.  Next, I thought maybe it was a white oak, since we have lots of those in our area.

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Nope, it wasn’t a white oak either.  After much debate and scouring this wonderful site, I was able to fairly positively identify our tree as a southern red oak, though there was some debate that it might be a cherrybark oak.  Next week, when we go to my sister’s house, we’re going to collect some leaves and acorns from her oak tree and see if it’s the same species.  I know that it produces a lot more acorns.


In addition to our oak tree, we saw several squirrels and a blue jay in the yard.  Then, while I was sitting at the dining room table later in the day, I looked out and saw a bird I’d never seen before on our birdfeeder.  I couldn’t get a picture of it, but I think I identified it, as accurately as my faulty memory could, as an immature female mourning warbler.


Oh, and in case you’re wondering why the leaf is so much bigger than everything else, I decided to cheat with the leaf and I traced it, rather than free-handing it.  So, have you gotten outside this week?

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. Hi Kris,

    I learned some things about your oak…we don't have red oaks here in CA. 🙂

    I said what I said about oaks not having acorns because we have several oaks that have never produced acorns. I'm not sure what is up with that but they are definitely oaks.

    Great journal entry.

    Barb-Harmony Art Mom

  2. Thanks, Yolanda. My only tip: practice, practice, practice.

    Well, one other — check your library for sketching books or look for tutorials online. I've found that I've improved as my eyes become trained to observe the little details.

  3. what a great reminder I don't have to pack up and hit the "park" all the time – but use my own backyard!

  4. Thanks for the link! I thought the two trees bordering our yard were willow oaks, and now I know that is correct. We also found some water oaks and pin oaks during our nature walk.

  5. I enjoyed reading your post. We are new to the Outdoor Hour Challenge but we posted ours about oaks today. ~ Nikki

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